10 Steps to Improve Your Career
To help give your career a boost, Steve McMahan, president of the Atlantic region of Kforce Professional Staffing in Tampa, FL, has these tips to get you on your way:
- Prioritize - "Define what's most important to you and what tradeoffs you're comfortable with," McMahan says. "Then stay within that range. If you settle for less, you'll be unhappy later on."
- Create a list - "Make a wish list of three to five companies you would really like to work for and the position within those companies for which you are best suited and most interested," add McMahan. "The right company will be one whose values mesh with yours."
- Eliminate limitations - "Don't limit your wish list to your current industry." He advises. "Specific industry needs can change rapidly, and the most successful individuals can transfer their skills readily to other industries."
- Do your homework - "Research each of your wish-list companies, job positions and even the prospective supervisor," McMahan suggests. "Review the company's Web site, do an online search, and/or ask someone at the company to send you background material to help you narrow your list."
- Know yourself - "Jot down your strengths and weaknesses, (such as) what differentiates you and makes you a good choice, and what you struggle with." He says. "You'll need a fair and accurate pictured of your skills to help you determine he best job for you. These are also questions you'll need to be able to answer in your interview."
- Be positive - "When updating your resume, play up your accomplishments," says McMahan. "Use an achievement format."
- Chat it up - "Keep an eye out for associations where executives from your wish-list companies will be speaking or where employees of those companies may be members," he says. "Take advantage of these opportunities to introduce yourself and gain insight into the personalities of your prospective companies."
- Ask the right questions - "At networking functions, ask open-ended quest5ions, find out what people know and who they know," McMahan suggests. "Rather than saying, 'Do you have any openings I can speak with you about?' instead ask whether you can schedule time to follow up with the person to learn more about them, their company, and industry. Ask for referrals to their colleagues for informational interviews."
- Express yourself - "Particularly if you are considering a career change to a new industry, this provides an excellent opportunity to try out the new industry and a chance to demonstrate your abilities over a period of time."
- Look ahead - "Your goal should be to position yourself for long-term economic security, rather than looking for positions that will simply pay the most in the short term," says McMahan. "People should seek roles that fit their values and career goals. Individuals who become 'job mercenaries' often destroy their career in the long run."